“Eck”-Static – Pitching gem spearheads key HCAC sweep

“Eck”-Static – Pitching gem spearheads key HCAC sweep

NORTH MANCHESTER, IND. – A fourth career complete-game shutout and first since 2016 for senior Brandon Eck (Fort Wayne, Ind.) was just what the proverbial doctor ordered for Manchester University Sunday, April 8.

In control from the first pitch of game one against perennial Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference standout Rose-Hulman, the right hander carved up the visiting Fightin' Engineers with a 97-pitch masterpiece in front of nearly 100 fans at Gratz Field. He was nicked for only five hits, all singles, struck out four and issued just two free passes in a speedy 1:35-minute 4-0 triumph.

MU's offense got just enough of a measure off Rose-Hulman sophomore southpaw Luke Buehler to ensure a strong start to the twin bill. Sophomore designated hitter Joe Gallatin (Muncie, Ind.) doubled off the fence in left center in the home first and took another base on a bobble by Rose-Hulman's defense. He was chased home by a run-scoring ground out by junior outfielder Tyler LaFollette (Warsaw, Ind.) for a quick 1-0 edge, It stayed that way until the sixth when senior outfielder Eric Knepper (Bremen, Ind.) singled up the middle to plate a score, and junior catcher Matt Pritz (LaPorte, Ind.) roped a double into the right center field gap for another run. Pritz came back for a second run-batted-in in the eighth to secure the final.

Fellow senior hurler Taylor Kopplin (Westport, Ind.) endeavored to extend the Fightin' Engineers' scoreboard goose eggs further in game two. Fueled by his battery mate's third and fourth runs-batted-in of the afternoon in the first inning followed by a nifty run-scoring bunt from junior outfielder Braxton Riley (Fort Wayne, Ind.) in the second, he was staked to a quick 3-0 lead. Sophomore infielder Nick Rush (Terre Haute, Ind.) added an insurance run in the sixth, blasting a pitch to the roof of the Burt Field pressbox.

Meanwhile, Kopplin was in cruise control over the first six frames, giving up only three hits. Rose-Hulman broke through in the seventh and eighth with a combined three runs. The senior wrapped his fourth victory replete with six strikeouts, as junior John Magers (Noblesville, Ind.) shut the door in the ninth for his second save in a 4-3 decision.

The Spartans (13-11 overall, 3-3 HCAC) continue a seven-game homestand Tuesday, April 10. Indiana Tech visits North Manchester for a 4:15 p.m. start.